I was born in Belfast in 1968, one of a twin, and we grew up in a happy and comfortable working class home . One of my first memories is performing a song for the relatives, with an accompanying dance routine . The applause must have gone to my head because I spent the next years daydreaming and letting my imagination take over . I adored writing stories and plays and putting on little shows to the reluctant audiences of our east Belfast street .
My other passion is animals, cats in particular…and I spent many hours dragging home someones much loved furbaby , trying to convince my Mum it was a stray. This love for all animals led me to become vegetarian at 14 and almost instantly I fell in love with cooking .
I was fortunate enough to get involved with Just Books, creating simple and easy dishes in their cafe, often turning up in my school uniform to help . This opened the door for me, my twin and many others to open our own vegetarian drop in centre in Belfast city centre in 1986…The Belfast Youth and Community group, also known as Giros, was a cross community drop in centre providing cheap food, cheap space for bands to practise and a safe place for debate and sharing of ideas . Here is a video of Giros, where I’m interviewed talking about my experiences .
I spent 4 years in the kitchens of Giros, losing sleep over the planning of menus, cleaning, shopping, and cooking. We had massive successes and a few disasters, catering for large events, taking our Giros veggie burger to gigs at the Art College and finally creating a theme night in the cafe and getting my first write up in the Belfast Telegraph, saying it was the best veggie food in Belfast . It was the only veggie food in Belfast!
Sadly , we were all volunteers, and as a new mum, I needed to reevaluate my ideas and get a ‘proper’ job . I entered back into education at 27, got some qualifications in Theatre Studies, some ‘A’ levels ,and 4 diplomas in massage . I also gained an RSA exercise to music qualification , which opened up my brand new passion for dance and fitness, and I began to teach children and the elderly how to keep fit .
By 1998, when I was 30, I was working 25 groups per week , dance, face painting, childrens parties and got my break in the Crescent Arts centre, teaching my first drama class. From there it snowballed and I got work in many centres and clubs and schools around the city and beyond.
And so now,in 2018, Im still teaching in schools and youth clubs and work as an after school classroom assistant 4 afternoons a week.
I realised I missed the cooking and so 4 years ago set up Truffleupagus . Initially a vegan chocolate and truffle venture, by 2016 I had expanded to include pastries, pies, cakes , salads and a whole range of vegan, and often gluten free , yums. I have been a stallholder at the last four Irish Vegan Festivals, here in Belfast and am booked to attend a fifth in October .
I was delighted to be commissioned by the Body Shop, to provide the catering at the launch of their vegan range of cosmetics, in August 2017. My dream came true to cater at a vegan wedding in July 2017 also .
So , that is the story of how it all is all connected and my journey to this date . My drama classes are unsurprisingly full of the joys of food and animals and my cooking is full of the flair and passion of drama .